1968 Chevrolet El Camino

1968 Chevrolet El Camino

The 1968 Chevy Chevelle had just received its 2-year facelift, making it sleeker and more aerodynamic than the boxy ’67 Chevelle it replaced. And of course, the El Camino benefited from it. Now riding on a 116-inch wheelbase, shared with the Chevelle sedan and wagon, it was an inch longer than before. The new look was a departure from the convention 3-box style of the outgoing cars. 1968 seems to be the year that Detroit started backing away from sharp-edged boxy cars like the Chevelle and the GTO for rounder, more organic shapes. When this ’68-69 body was replaced, it was by the decidedly smoother, more aerodynamic 1970 model. Look at the 1964-65 Chevelle, then compare it to the ’66-’67 Chevelle/El Camino. The latter cars look bigger and heavier. The ’68-’69 models look bigger still, and by the time the 1970-74 models came out, they got even bigger and fatter. Not in a bad way, the ’70 Chevelle is one of the toughest-looking cars on the planet. But as a trend, its interesting to observe how GM perceived that buyers wanted bigger, heavier, more substantial cars in the 1960s and going into the 70s. Funny that just a few years later, GM would be downsizing nearly everything it made.

Chevy built almost 42,000 El Caminos in 1968, but only 5,190 of them were SS396s. Yet you see them everywhere at shows. Many did not start out life as an SS396, but received some of the cosmetic upgrades along the way. An original SS396 came with a blacked-out horizontal strip on the back tailgate with an “SS” emblem in the center, a blacked-out front grille also with an SS emblem in the center, the front fenders got “396” emblems (call-outs), and there was a special hood with twin domed (faux) hood scoops, and the 6.5″ X 14″ Rally wheels with centers and glamour rings. Not that hard to add onto to your non-SS El Camino, or Chevelle for that matter. It’s done all the time. Not necessarily to fool anyone, maybe they just like the look. I certainly do. Cars like this are called “Tributes” or “Clones” or Wannabe’s” or “Recreations”, depending upon how serious the effort is. And again, that’s okay as long as everyone is honest about it. Because the price differential between a normal 1968 Chevrolet El Camino with SS stuff tacked-on, and a genuine El Camino SS396 is substantial. Any time you’re looking to buy a classic car, make sure you know what you’re looking at. Mustangs are particularly famous for this. Someone starts with a 6-cylinder car, drops a cool engine in and all the right trim, then calls it a Mustang GT, or worse, a Shelby GT350 or something, and gets Shelby money for a cobbled-together 6-cylinder Mustang. The flip side of this is that it’s a great way to get the car you want without breaking the bank. And even if you can afford a 375-horse 4-speed SS396 El Camino, would you really want to drive a car like that every day? Probably not. It’s value would drop rapidly. So, you drive around in a clone that looks like an SS for half the money (or less), that you can have fun with and don’t have to worry about. This particular 1968 Chevrolet El Camino pictured here is obviously not an original SS. Basically, it as SS emblems front and rear and the correct Rally rims. Still a great-looking car.

1968 Chevrolet El Camino INTERIORS

The interior was cleaned up from the older design, and materials were upgraded, including cloth, vinyl and carpeting. The 1968 El Camino came with a vinyl bench seat, but the “Strato-buckets” and center console seen here were popular options, at $111 for the set. Overall it was a handsome, practical interior that held up well to use and abuse.

1968 Chevrolet El Camino SS396 SPECIFICATIONS






Track, front

Track, rear

Tire size




Engine type

Engine family


Bore & Stroke

Fuel system

Base 396ci V8

L34 396ci V8

L78 396ci V8

 all El Caminos: 41,791

El Camino SS396: 5,190

116.0 in

207.0 in

75.75 in

56.0 in

59.0 in

59.0 in


3,210 lbs

4,300 lbs

OHV 90-degree V8

Chevy Mk IV big block

396 cu /  6489 cc (6.5L)

4.1″ X 3.8″ / 104mm X 96mm

1 X Rochester 4bbl

325 hp @ 4800 rpm

350 hp @ 5200 rpm

375 hp @ 5600 rpm

410 lb/ft @ 3200 rpm

415 lb/ft @ 3600 rpm

415 lb/ft @ 3600 rpm